by Kevin Flynn - Friday September 26 2008 08:15:53 AM
From the Associated Press:
The first presidential debate between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama remained in doubt Friday, the very day it was to be held, embroiled in the same partisan divisions that were holding up a Wall Street bailout plan.
Obama said he intended to travel to the University of Mississippi in Oxford, where the debate had long been scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. EDT. McCain, who had proposed delaying the contest so the two presidential hopefuls could help negotiate an economic rescue plan, wouldn't commit.
"I'm very hopeful that we'll get enough of an agreement tomorrow so we can make this debate," McCain said Thursday on NBC's "Nightly News."
Obama tried to press McCain into showing up for the first of three scheduled debates between them, saying they should be able to handle the 90-minute forum and the financial crisis at the same time.
"Senator McCain has no need to be fearful about a debate," Obama told reporters. "He's a person of strong opinions and he's been expressing them on the campaign trail."
Both McCain and Obama returned to Washington on Thursday at the urging of President Bush, who invited them to a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House. But a session aimed at showing unity in resolving the financial crisis broke up with conflicts in plain view. McCain would not commit to supporting a plan worked out by congressional negotiators, said people from both parties who were briefed on the exchange.
...Meanwhile, debate preparations continued in Oxford, with streets blocked off and big TV screens set up on campus and near City Hall for large debate-watching parties.
Television network officials were left with the uncertainty of whether their Friday night programming would be the scheduled debate or something else arranged at the last minute.
...Obama told NBC that, should the debate go on, he would raise the economy even though the focus was supposed to be foreign policy.
"It's one of the fundamental differences that I have with John McCain, and it's something that I think we need to explore in a debate format," Obama said. "We're only talking about 90 minutes here."
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
On a campaign stop at Greensburg Salem High School ... [Joe] Biden portrayed himself and his new partner, Sen. Barack Obama, as guardians of taxpayer interests in the bailout talks under way in the Capitol. And he described their opponent, Sen. John McCain, as the heir to policies that set the stage for the excesses of Wall Street.
"At 9 a.m. last Monday, John McCain was saying that the fundamentals of the economy were strong," Mr. Biden said. "At 11 a.m. last Monday morning John McCain was saying we have a great economic crisis on our hands.
..."In a matter of two hours John McCain changed his rhetoric when what he should have been changing was his policies."
Of the talks that were going on as he spoke, he said, "We cannot and we will not simply bail out Wall Street without helping the millions of homeowners who are struggling just to stay in their homes. If Wall Street is going to get this help, Main Street should get it as well."
Mr. Biden criticized Mr. McCain as an advocate of the privatization of Social Security while contending that his tax proposals failed to include relief for seniors. In contrast, he pointed to an Obama plan that would eliminate federal income taxes for senior citizens making $50,000 or less.
The Delaware senator also claimed that the Republican's health care proposal would amount to a huge unheralded tax increase on the middle class. He referred to the fact that Mr. McCain's health care proposal would eliminate the long-standing tax break for employer-paid health insurance, deeming it taxable income.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is the largest tax increase in history on the middle class," he said.
From the Wiles-Barre Times Leader:
Mike Annone, a union member from Wilmington, Del., said Thursday he will go door to door in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties on behalf of the Democratic presidential ticket because he knows winning Pennsylvania won’t be easy.
...Nearly 500 people came out to hear Biden talk about the economy, ending the war in Iraq, lowering taxes, providing universal health care and the need for strong leadership.
“It’s critical that the people know how the candidates stand on the issues,” Annone said. “I’ll be knocking on doors in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton – wherever I can – to get the message out. Pennsylvania is a battleground state; you can tell how important it is by the amount of time and money the Republicans are spending here.”
...“Both Obama and Biden come from working-class families,” Annone said. “They know the struggles of the middle class. They will provide the direction, inspiration and motivation that the country needs.”
Joanne McDade, a 50-year-old psychiatric nurse from Wilkes-Barre, introduced Biden and said it was an honor she would never forget. McDade and her husband, Thomas, have four children – two just out of college, another in college and a high schooler.
She talked about her struggles and the strugglers of many Americans. She said the poor economy has changed her neighborhood because many have sold their homes to cope with the trying economic times.
“I’m proof of Barack Obama’s grassroots movement,” McDade said. “I’ve never done anything like this before; the most I’ve ever gotten involved in a political campaign was to put a sign in my yard. I truly believe in him and Sen. Biden and their message.”
...Joe Evan, 35, of Kingston, came with his wife and two children to hear Biden.
“We need leaders who are going to tackle the major issues – the economy, the energy crisis, foreign policy – that are facing the country,” Evan said. “We need competent leadership to attack the issues intelligently. We need Obama and Biden.”
Betty Daniels, a retired teacher’s aide, said it’s high time the Democrats took back the White House.
“The Republicans have had it too long,” she said. “And they haven’t done a very good job.”